Whenever I attend a preview event, there’s usually one of two outcomes: either I leave impressed with what I saw or feel completely underwhelmed. After checking out Project CARS last week, I’ve realized that there’s a third outcome that I’ve not experienced before…
Being completely blown away.
An acronym for Community Assisted Racing Simulator, Project CARS has been financed and developed through community funding and feedback, and never has it shown more clearly just who the target of a game is. From the very moment I stepped into the BAC Mono for a few laps around the Hockenheimring it was obvious that this wasn’t your average racing simulator (or racing game for that matter) – it is a contender for the greatest.
I thought that after countless hours in other racing simulators that Project CARS would be a walk in the park to master, but boy was I given a lesson in humility from the get-go. While this game doesn’t suffer the same instability at high speeds that the last twotitles from SMS experienced, there’s a whole other challenge in CARS’ physics that have never really been properly represented in other simulators. Subtle elevation changes and dips in tracks can result in a loss of traction and an uncontrollable accident, or having to battle with your wheels suddenly finding (or losing) grip as you exit corners and come back onto throttle are just two examples of how just how precise and detailed the handling model is in this game – and all this occurred when I was using the most basic physics setting too! Project CARS isn’t a game that you can just pick up and excel in, but it’s also the most satisfying racing title I’ve had the pleasure of playing in recent times. It will completely test your efforts, but it keeps you coming back for more.
While this kind of goes without saying, there’s a seriously noticeable difference in feel of the different types of cars too. The BAC Mono feels light, planted and fast, however you’ll struggle with understeer as you exit corners because you just don’t get the responsiveness you expect from the rear tires. Contrast this to the likes of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X that feels surprisingly lofty. Neither of these two compare however to the Formula A (which are in fact the 2013 F1 vehicles) cars where the acceleration and precision handling is unlike anything (read: anything) I’ve ever experienced in another game.
A stand-out feature of Project CARS that almost everyone I’ve spoken to has mentioned is the graphics and level of detail in this game, and once again let me announce – it does not disappoint. From the sharpness of the decals on the vehicles to the bloom affect from the sun’s glare and even the modelling of the vehicles themselves, CARS is as much pretty in-game as it has appeared in the screenshots to date. There’s even pieces of debris that sticks to your helmet that you can see if you race with the helmet-view in an open-top vehicle.
Absolutely everything in Project CARS is evidence of Slightly Mad Studios’ efforts to produce the most complete racing simulator to date. Even in the unfinished state that I experienced the game in last week, it’s already looking far more diverse than any console-based racing title that I’ve come across in the past couple of years. It might seem like I’ve sung a lot of praise for this game today, but if the preview is anything to go off, the final version of this game is not a title that racing enthusiasts are going to want to miss. Project CARS is financed and developed by the fans for the fans and I’m excited to see the end result.
Project CARS is set to release on Xbox One, PS4 and Windows PC in November 2014, and later on Wii U.